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BSDA Artist Interview: Ellen Siebers

Tuesday, September 16, 2014 · No Comments

Brooklyn-based artist Ellen Siebers is now exhibiting six of her paintings on Buy Some Damn Art.

Ellen Siebers 13_full

The Awk The Orchard

KATE: There’s a great deal of talk about the art scene in Bushwick. Living in Brooklyn and having exhibited in multiple shows in Bushwick what would you say about all the hype? Is Bushwick really the pulse point of new art?

ELLEN: I think the best part of what’s going on in Bushwick is that it is a supportive community for artists. If I’ve learned anything about living as a professional artist, it is that good things usually happen (shows, getting work) by your artist friends talking about you and your work to others. That is all to say that your community is extremely important and Bushwick is a place that these crucial friendships are given the chance to flourish. There’s so much energy in Bushwick right now. However, I hope there isn’t a singular pulse point for new art. This idea of living and working in the NYC area as an artist has lived for so long, and while it is still important and a great place to be, I have just as many artist friends living elsewhere who are contributing in an equal capacity. We constantly need to rethink models/ways of how to exist as professional artists.


Armlessness II

KATE: Is Brooklyn still (one of) the best place to live and work as an artist?

ELLEN: I think the best place to live and work as an artist can only be defined by each individual artist, and their needs for making the best work that they can. It is one of the best places, but there have to be so many places of equal importance for different reasons.

Ellen Siebers 11_full

Cross Leg Cross Tack

KATE: You paint on marble ground. What exactly is that and why do you chose this material?

ELLEN: Marble ground or a marble gesso is a traditional way of making a painting ground, but it behaves very differently than the gesso that can be purchased at the store. It is made out of a binder (rabbit skin glue, PVA) and marble dust. It has to be poured upon a rigid surface, like plywood, because it would crack if put upon canvas.

I struggled with grounds for a long time before finding this surface. I always loved the absorbency and quality of paper, and the acrylic gessos were too resistant for my taste. This ground soaks up paint very quickly in the first few layers and has a beautiful matte surface, much like paper. It can also take a lot of abuse, which is good because I often sand off layers of paint with a hand sander and start over. It is both delicate and sturdy, which would seem impossible but I feel I need both qualities in a surface.

9-22_large copy


KATE: Tell us about the works in this show. Where do these visual themes come from?

ELLEN: These works in the show are recent, from the last year or so. During that time I had moved from Wisconsin to Brooklyn which really exposed a lot of my ties to Midwestern terrestrial forms and experiences. I spent a lot of time taking in imagery in my surroundings and comparing that to memories of where I grew up. That being said, I don’t feel that the paintings are overwhelmingly nostalgic. I more have a sincere interest in trying to document this type of experience that I’m sure others experience as well. The paintings are an attempt to recall these experiences and document them the best that I can without the assistance of things like photography.

Ellen Siebers 16 copy 2

A Lesson In Water

KATE: What is most inspiring to you right now – either in your art practice or life in general?

ELLEN: Two specific things I am finding really inspiring are the Shakers, and Blinky Palermo. Their specific spiritual tendencies are really interesting to me. I am trying to navigate through things very slowly and be as sponge-like as possible, and I find a lot of material through that daily exercise.

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